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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

my week at the movies: ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ ‘Role Models,’ ‘Milk,’ ‘Soul Men’

Kind of a slow week for me. Only four movies? Lots of DVDs piled up here that I should be going through, though, so it’s not like I’m getting any kind of break…

Hooray, Danny Boyle has a new movie! The Sunshine/28 Days Later director this time takes on a story that combines the instant-celebrity fantasies provided by game shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? — which apparently figures heavily into the plot and structure of the film — with the realities of urban slum living that huge portions of the world’s populations contend with on a daily basis. Slumdog Millionaire (opens limited in the U.S. on November 12; opens in the U.K. on January 23, 2009). The script is by Simon Beaufoy, who wrote the wonderful Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, so, there’s another reason to hooray.

Can Role Models (opens wide in the U.S. on November 7; opens in the U.K. on January 23, 2009) possibly be anything more than exactly what it looks like? A gal can hope…

Whether the anti-gay-marriage Prop 8 fails or wins in California tomorrow, Gus Van Sant’s biopic of groundbreaking San Francisico politician Harvey Milk should be fascinating. It’s got one of the most intriguing trailers I’ve ever seen, at least, plus an awesome cast: Sean Penn as Milk, plus Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco, and Diego Luna. Cool. Milk (opens limited in the U.S. on November 26; opens in the U.K. on January 16, 2009).

I’m not sure what to expect from Soul Men (opens wide in the U.S. on November 7; no U.K. release has been announced yet). Samuel L. Jackson is almost always a treat. On the other hand, director Malcolm D. Lee is responsible for Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, and I use the word responsible in a legal sense, and by that I mean, Can someone be held criminally responsible for the abysmal badness of a movie? Because I’d be deeply interested in exploring that…

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